A guest review by Tj
Summary Review: A well written character study of relationships, family dynamics, coming out later in life and being true to oneself.
The Blurb: Based on the film of the same name, Mulligans is a poignant family drama with a twist. Tyler, a straight college jock, brings his best friend Chase home to stay with his family for summer vacation. The Davidson family welcomes Chase with open arms, but as the summer progresses, so does an unexpected attraction. Stacey, Tyler’s Mom, tries to hold on to her family while Tyler’s Dad Nathan struggles with his long-suppressed sexuality.
The Review: Mulligans, at first glance appears, to be a college student’s coming out story. But as the pages progress, a much deeper and more complex character study emerges, dealing with complexities of a relationship with a significant flaw in the foundation. First we meet Chase, a college student off to spend the summer with his best friend Tyler’s family at a lake house. We learn that Tyler is a fairly privileged young man, popular, athletic and from a seemingly perfect family. Chase has a much different story, coming from a very underprivileged family, with an alcoholic mother unable to express love, and a father who died when he was 5.
Next we meet Tyler’s mother Stacey, an interesting character in her own right, who worries about presenting the perfect image for everyone, when in fact she is very troubled inside. She is an expert at diverting attention whenever anything unpleasant arises. Having devoted her life to her family, she is now terrified of what the future will hold when the children move out. Nathan, Tyler’s father, is struggling with his own issues of growing older, having lead a life of denial and now realizing the consequences. All four of these main characters have stories that intersect, forcing them to all deal with the ramifications of each other’s actions, both past and present.
As the summer progresses, it’s revealed that Stacey and Nathan’s marriage is far from perfect, and is perhaps built on very shaky ground. They had married very young when she became pregnant with Tyler, and Stacey reveals to us that there were rumors surrounding Nathan early on, but they managed to get past them. It seems that Stacey has been preparing for years for Nathan to come clean with her about his sexuality, to which she planned to say that it didn’t change how she felt about him. I found the depiction of the character’s stories to be very realistic and well written – from Stacey’s struggles to maintain the “perfect” family, and Nathan’s struggle with his sexuality, to Chase’s coming out.
The characters themselves were all very well developed and a great deal of ink was devoted to each one, making them all come to life.It’s hard for many of us to imagine the life that Nathan lead, although loving his wife and children dearly, he had been forced to make serious life altering choices at a very young age. And these choices require him to deny a part of himself, costing not only his happiness, but that of his wife as well.
There is a connection that Nathan and Chase feel, one of a common nature, but not necessarily attraction. Slowly they become friends and Nathan must deal with his long denied feelings. There is no on-page sex other than kissing, and the ending is hopeful, but very realistic, as these complex characters emerge from their cocoons, to embrace the uncertain future. But at least that future will be genuine and built on a new foundation of truth.
This being the second book by Charlie David that I’ve read, I had some expectations for the prose and quality of writing, which was quite beautiful in some passages:
“He could smell the Moonflowers and Evening Primrose hard at work blooming and spreading their fragrance on their nightshift in the garden. The maple and poplar trees sang softly in the breeze, their leaves slipping softly against one another.”
Overall, I recommend Mulligans. It is a well written character study, with very well developed characters, and some beautiful prose.